Why The Heck Did I Tear My Meniscus Playing Golf?

Why The Heck Did I Tear My Meniscus Playing Golf?

I'm in Good Shape. So how the heck did I tear my meniscus while playing golf?

Golf is a fantastic game. It's challenging and tough to master, but anyone can play it. It gets you outdoors, but you aren't just watching nature whiz by like when you are mountain biking or skiing. It's also a great way to stay social and active at the same time. 

When it comes to extolling the virtues of the game of golf, I will preach all day! It's truly one of my favorite things to do. But, due to my profession and my love of golf, I have a unique understating of golf injuries. 

And one of the most common golf injuries is the mensicus tear.

Why is the meniscus tear so common in golf?

Unknown to many people is the fact that the meniscus is something that, like much of our body, changes over time. Unfortunately, our meniscus undergoes physical changes as we “mature”.   

What are some of the changes that the meniscus undergoes as we age?

  • The meniscus becomes less elastic

  • The meniscus loses some of its natural blood supply.

What this means is that, with the same amount of rotation that our body handled easily in our teens and twenties, we now tear the meniscus, which unfortunately is the only cushion we have in our knee. 

Your Meniscus is Like a Rubber Band

Think of our meniscus as a warmed-up rubber band when we are 20, and a cold rubber band by the time we are 40. 

It’s still the same cushion, it just tears much easier. 

Sorry to all of our senior players who have torn their meniscus while simply picking the golf ball out of the hole. 

This is also the reason, that our more “skilled” golfers tend to tear up their left knee preferentially while they rotate around that pivot point.

Ok, I tore my meniscus playing golf. Now what?

The good thing is that this injury is not the end of the world, or of your golf career. 

For those of you who are interested, let's dive a little deeper into some of the specifics of the meniscus.

What Exactly is the Meniscus?

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The menisci are the “shock absorbers” of the knee joint. There are two menisci between the tibia and the femur.

When you walk or run, you are actually placing two to eight times your body weight on the knee joint. It is the job of the meniscus to absorb this weight and distribute it evenly throughout the joint.

As mentioned before, the meniscus loses blood supply as we age, making it tougher for the meniscus to absorb force.

Meniscus Surgery For You Golfers

Many of the meniscus injuries that I see require surgery.  These are severe menisci injuries in which the knee locks up and cannot be straightened out.

So, we perform surgery as soon as possible to repair the damage and prevent further injury.

Arthroscopy for meniscus tears

Often, surgical treatment involves arthroscopy. The surgeon makes small incisions in the knee to insert the camera into the injured joint.

Partial Meniscectomy

Another surgical option for meniscus injury treatment is a partial meniscectomy. During a partial meniscectomy, the surgeon removes the part of the meniscus that is damaged and cannot be repaired.

Meniscus Injury Repair

Yet another surgical option is called a meniscal repair, in which the surgeon uses sutures to sew the edges of the meniscus back together. Generally, the meniscal repair is the preferred option for surgeons because it will allow more normal function of the knee and protect the articular cartilage than if part of the meniscus is removed altogether.

Meniscal repair is also more commonly used for younger patients whose menisci haven’t degenerated. 

Meniscus Transplantation

This option for surgical meniscus injury treatment is called transplantation, in which part of another person’s meniscus replaces the removed meniscus. This treatment is still in the exploratory and experimental stage. 

Work Hard After Your Meniscus Injury To Rebuild Strength 

After any of these treatments, you must work hard to rebuild your strength and be patient to let the injury heal. It is not uncommon for patients to take over eight weeks to recover enough from a meniscal injury to walk again. 

So take a few weeks to recover, watch some PGA tour on the tv, and we'll have you back on the links sooner rather than later!

Common Golf Injuries (InfoGraphic)

Common Golf Injuries (InfoGraphic)